Speaking at the Beyond Sport United event, WWE chief brand officer (and on-air commissioner of the RAW brand) Stephanie McMahon said that the company wants to feature LGBT characters in future storylines.

WWE’s history with gay-themed angles is not a good one so far

Currently, WWE has one active wrestler who identifies as gay (Darren Young) and another who is bisexual (Rosa Mendes). Longtime official and WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson has been openly gay since the 1970s, but he had only been publicly acknowledged as such in 2014, in an episode of Legends’ House.

However, the company has not had the most success with LGBT gimmicks or storylines in its long history. This was especially true in the controversial Billy and Chuck “gay wedding” storyline of 2002.

At that time, tag teammates Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo had begun to act overly affectionate to each other, to the point that it was all but confirmed they were, in storyline, a gay couple. They were to be married in-ring on the September 12, 2002 episode of SmackDown, but revealed during the ceremony that they were straight all along, and had scheduled the ceremony for publicity’s sake.

This bait-and-switch wedding earned the ire of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), who had initially praised WWE for its positive portrayal of homosexual men, and helped the storyline get mainstream media coverage.

GLAAD has been working closely with WWE on sensitivity matters

At Beyond Sport United, McMahon said that there “will be an opportunity” to integrate some LGBT-themed storylines “in the near future.” She also confirmed that WWE and GLAAD have been working together ahead of these potential storylines.

“We’ve had GLAAD come in and speak to our entire writing team and give a whole tutorial on sensitivities, the right words, the wrong words, (and) why those words matters,” said McMahon. “I think that with their guidance and support, we will be able to portray (LGBT characters and storylines) appropriately.”

Will WWE deliver with tasteful portrayals of LGBT community?

Considering how WWE has not always portrayed the LGBT community in a tasteful light, it will be interesting to see if and how GLAAD’s “sensitivity training” has paid off.

As of now, the aforementioned Darren Young’s sexual orientation has not been made part of storylines, except for one off-the-cuff comment about his favorite color being “rainbow,” back when he was teaming with Titus O’Neil in The Prime Time Players. Lower-card tag team Breezango has been working a metrosexual gimmick of sorts, and they may also be future candidates for such angles. In any case, though, this looks like a good move for WWE, provided it delivers on its promise to portray LGBT characters without the stereotyping and tropes of old.

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